Sunday, 16 May 2010

River Nene 5km Swim

Earlier this week I realised I had a rare weekend off work, with three available days free from child care commitments. Initially, following last weeks trip to Cork, I thought this would be a great opportunity to visit Dover for the first time since September 2008. As the week progressed it became apparent that logistically Dover was going to be a no go. However as one door closes another opens.

I had been in touch with Dan Martin via twitter and he kindly invited me to The River Nene OSS swim near Peterborough, the distance from home was only going to be 170 miles so it was relatively close in comparison to Dover.

Friday afternoon once KGB had finished work we departed south, after some traffic frustration on the A19 we made good progress and arrived shortly after 7:30pm at the Castle Farm Guest House in the village of Fotheringhay . A very peaceful, picturesque location with great history. After unpacking we were collected by Dan who drove us to a nearby pub for introductions to his parents, who were very welcoming to say the least, a lovely couple who seem to run around after the big man all day long! After a good feed and a couple of pints of Guinness we were tucked up and asleep for midnight.

The plan for Saturday was to start the swim at Cotterstock for 11am, swim the 5km stretch to Fotheringhay, refuel by way of a picnic, re warm, then swim another 5km to Elton Lock. As it turned out, due to a couple of late arrivals, the laid back approach to these social swims, and some transport shuttle runs by KGB,  the start didn't actually take place til just before twelve noon.

About a dozen swimmers (half in speedos half in wetsuits) entered the water, it was a little green and murky but flat as a pancake, quite surreal after swimming in the sea on Thursday, it was more like being in a pool. I was last to get into the River as I had waited for KGB to return to the start in order to collect some kit left at the waters edge.
I jumped in the wooden jetty and soon got into my rhythm, I was sighting ahead and soon located another swimmer (Rob) in speedos of a similar pace, we swam together most of the way, the route itself was very scenic though I was not taking a lot of notice as I was more or less flat out! We had a brief stop at Tansor where Dans dad George and some others were on the bank of the river to check on everyone's welfare. The temperature on my watch was 54-55F at this checkpoint, after a few seconds of treading water we all continued on.

Around half way we swam up to a lock where we were required to scramble up a muddy bank to negotiate the obstacle, Rob and I ran around the gravel path to keep warm and dived back in. The water had been, and continued to be very patchy in terms of temperature, at times it felt freezing cold. I didn't hang around to get a reading, I was already swimming hard especially so through the cold spots.
Before long I noticed the Church of St Mary and All Saints in the distance. I knew I was getting close to the picnic stop. Moments later I spotted KGB, she had walked from the start and was taking some great photos. After another ten minutes, 1 hour 20 minutes after jumping in, I reached the cars and exited the water.
There was a great atmosphere as we all had hot drinks, picnic food and laughter. Unfortunately due to the late start we were unable to wait for the restart, so at 3pm we said our goodbyes and thank-yous and made the three hour drive home and back to reality.

Many thanks to Dan (the man mountain as you can see above) for the invite, to all the other OSS swimmers, and to the parents of Dan....George and Sue for their hospitality. Not forgetting KGB for her support, after care and photos. I will definitely return to swim the straight ten km with Dan before the summer is out.

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